In 1917, Kremer joined his hometown club, the Oakland Oaks back in the PCL. He would stay with the organization for the next seven seasons, getting slightly better each season and eventually accruing a 105-122 record. He concluded his stint with the club by posting a 25-16 campaign in 1923 where he threw 357 innings.
Finally, at the age of 31, Kremer (also known as “Wiz”) joined the Pirates as the number three starter in the rotation in 1924. He followed the tandem of Johnny Morrison and Wilbur Cooper on the hill. The old rookie led the National League with 41 appearance, boasting an 18-10 record (fifth in wins, eighth in W/L%, at .643), a 3.19 ERA, 17 (of 30) complete games, 259.1 innings pitched (NL fifth) and a 1.207 WHIP (NL eighth). He finished sixth in the league with a 3.3 pitcher WAR. He earned the second of his NL leading four shutouts on May 6th against the Chicago Cubs, striking out four while allowing a single, a double, and a walk (as the recipient of good defense (three double plays), he faced the minimum 27 on the afternoon) in a 2-0 victory. He struck out a season high six batters in his final appearance of the season, a 9-3 win against the Cubs in game one of a doubleheader (the Bucs also won game two, 10-6). Pittsburgh posted an enviable (from today’s point of view) record of 90-63, third in the NL.
In 1925, Kremer followed super-rookie Emil Yde (16-3 the prior season for Pittsburgh) and Lee Meadows as the number three starter. Pirates faithful were rewarded with a 17-8 record (NL fifth in wins and with a .680 win percentage) and a 3.69 ERA as Kremer showed no evidence of a sophomore slump. He completed 14 of 27 starts (out of 40 total appearances (NL fifth)), with a 1.300 WHIP (NL ninth). He was also errorless in 40 fielding chances. Although he didn’t earn any shutouts that season, he still knew how to manage a game. On August 20th, he earned 2-1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins, allowing six hits. Nine days later, in the back half of a twin bill, he pitched the winning end of a 13-1 whooping of the Philadelphia Phillies, striking out six and allowing only five hits (Pittsburgh also won the first game, 11-2). The Bucs finished the regular season with a pennant clinching 95-58 record, 8.5 games ahead of the New York Giants. Kremer started twice in the seven game World Series against the Washington Senators, relieving in a third. He allowed 10 hits and three walks, striking out five but taking the 4-3 loss in game three. In game five, he pitched all nine innings, allowing a walk and six hits in a 3-2 victory. In the decisive game seven, he came on in the fifth inning with the Bucs trailing, 6-3. In four innings, he allowed only one baserunner, a solo home run to Roger Peckinpaugh. In the meantime, the Pirates scored one in the fifth, two in the seventh, and three in the eighth to win the series with a 9-7 barnburner. Kremer was credited with the win.
1926 would see Kremer lead the NL in several categories, with 20 wins (going 20-6 overall), a .769 winning percentage, a 2.61 ERA, and an ERA+ of 150.He also finished third in the NL MVP vote. He struck out a career high 74 batters over 231.1 innings, completing 18 (NL sixth) of 26 starts with five saves (NL second) in his 11 relief appearances and finishing with a 1.176 WHIP (NL second). He was second in the NL with a 6.1 WAR and ranked fourth in the league with three shutouts. He started the season as the number two pitcher behind Vic Aldridge. On July 15th, he won his eighth of the season by allowing four singles and hitting one batter in a 3-0 victory over the Giants. On August 30th, in the first game of a doubleheader, he pitched a two hitter for his 16th win of the season, striking out four Cardinals in a 3-0 win. September 14th would see him earn his 19th of the year with another four hit shutout over New York, 5-0. Pittsburgh finished at 84-69, third place in the NL.
1927 would be another banner season for Kremer, which saw him lead the NL with career bests 2.47 ERA and 168 ERA+. He also posted a career best with a 1.142 WHIP (NL fourth). He went 19-8 (fifth in wins, third with a .704 win percentage), finishing 18 of 28 starts as Pittsburgh’s number one starter. He placed ninth in the NL MVP race, ranking fifth in the league with 6.4 WAR and second with a career best 8.164 hits allowed per nine innings. His September was one to remember, as he went 8-0 with a save, allowing 46 hits in 67.2 innings. He held his opponents to a .196 batting average and a 0.93 ERA through the streak. For the second time in three seasons, the Pirates won the National League pennant, going 94-60 and earning the right to face the AL Champion New York Yankees in the Fall Classic. Kremer started and lost game one, allowing five hits and three walks in five innings of game one, an eventual 5-4 loss. The Pirates went on to lose the next three in a sweep at the hands of perhaps the best team in baseball history.
1928 would see Kremer go 15-13 with a ballooned 4.64 ERA. He completed 17 (NL seventh) of 31 starts (NL eighth), walking more batters than he struck out for the first time in his career (68-61). Despite his fall from grace, he was still considered the Pirates number one pitcher. Once in a while, he still had a great day, as on April 23rd, when he earned a 6-0 shutout over the Cubs, allowing only two singles and a double for his first win of the season. Pittsburgh finished fourth in the NL with an 85-67 record.
In 1929, Kremer saw his record improve to 18-10 (NL fourth in wins, 10th with a .643 winning percentage) with a 4.26 ERA. He completed 14 of 27 games, holding his opponents to a 1.290 WHIP (NL fourth) and 9.176 H/9 (NL third). On September 7th, he won his 16th game of the season, striking out five and allowing nine singles in a 6-2 win against the Robins. The Bucs finished 10.5 games behind the first place Cubs, at 88-65.
1930 would see Kremer lead the NL in wins (20-12), 38 starts, 276 innings pitched, and 1232 batters faced. His .625 winning percentage ranked seventh in the league. Despite his proliferation, he amassed a career high 1.554 WHIP, 5.02 ERA, and league leading figures of 366 hits and 29 home runs allowed. On August 20th, he allowed a walk and five hits in a 5-0 win over the Boston Braves, somehow striking out zero batters. The Pirates finished fifth in the NL at 80-74.
In 1931, Kremer posted an 11-15 record, the first and only time in which he would finish with a losing mark. His ERA was down to a more respectable 3.33. He completed 15 of his 30 starts (NL seventh), allowing 246 hits in 230 innings. On June 19th, he allowed an unearned run on six hits and struck out four in a 4-1 win against the Giants. On July 13th, he earned a tough luck 1-0 loss to the Phillies, allowing five hits and striking out three. Under manager Jewel Ens, the Pirates struggled to a fifth place finish at 75-79.
Kremer appeared in a bit role for the Pirates over the next two seasons, going 5-3 with a 5.87 ERA in 18 games. He earned his last career shutout on July 15th, 1932 by limiting the Braves to three hits in a 1-0 win.
All-Time Statline: 10 seasons, 143-85, 3.76 ERA, 308 games, 247 starts, 134 CG, 14 shutouts, 10 saves, 19540.2 innings pitched, 2108 hits allowed, walked 483, struck out 516, 1.326 WHIP, 22.9 wins above replacement (24.5 as pitcher, -1.6 as a hitter).
Next Time: A three time Silver Slugger Award winner.